To Top

    Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Direct Objects

    Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Direct Objects

    Verbs are notionally defined by traditional grammars as “words that denote an action or a state of being.” A verb phrase is a grammatical structure that consists of a verb that functions as the verb phrase head plus any auxiliary verbs, particles, modifiers, complements, and objects.

    In grammar, a direct object is a word, phrase, or clause that follows and receives the action of a transitive verb. Although nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases most frequently perform the function, verb phrases in the form of present participles and infinitives sometimes function as direct objects in English. Some grammars refer to present participles that perform nominal functions as gerunds. Many verbs that take other verbs as direct objects are catenative verbs, or verbs that form strings of verbs by linking the catenative verb to an infinitive, present participle, or base form of another verb within a single verb phrase. Examples of verbs and verb phrases as direct objects include the following:

    • Kenobi considered planting a garden.
    • The preschoolers love playing the piano.
    • My daughters enjoy reading chapter books.
    • He hates cleaning toilets.
    • Her grandmother always disliked dusting.
    • Most cats prefer to eat meat.

    Present Participle as Direct Object

    Present Participle as Direct Object Grammar Tree

    Infinitive as Direct Object

    Infinitive as Direct Object Grammar Tree


    Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
    Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
    Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    More in English Verbs